Fun Friday

We met up with friends at Roxborough park for a wildflower hike co-op.

Rox is nice because no matter where you hike there, you can see the red rocks.

We did find some flowers as we hiked. Goatsbeard, which I didn’t get a picture of, was blooming everywhere. It produces giant dandelion-like puffballs. I also didn’t get a picture of white fairy trumpets or scouring rush (and those were pretty cool, with bamboo-like stems.) But, I did get a few pictures of yellow star flowers.

Parry harebells.

And Lupine.

That was a nice hike.

We got home and gave Maisy a bath, cleaned up some more and in general got the house ready for my Mom. We’re having green chile pork stew and rice for dinner with an appetizer of goat cheese stuffed peppers.

Thoughtful Thursday

I guess we should have written letters in the morning, but Hannah and Grace had a hard night (upset tummies – too much cake.) So we saved it for the afternoon. That was our ‘thoughtful’ part of the day. Bethany met with 3 other girls for her fan fiction co-op, they sat in a coffee shop for 2 hours and hashed out stories, plots, names of characters and had fun talking about their writing. One thing that we found that is helpful for writing is a thesaurus, but sometimes you don’t have a book or computer with you and that’s when a synonym wheel (or antonym wheel) can come in handy. We found this one and we made one to fill out with our own words. I love the paint chip one, Hannah will be doing that for sure.

synonym flower

Hannah was supposed to make dinner last night, but we went out, so she’s making dinner tonight. It’s corkscrew pasta soup, cheesy garlic bread and salad. She cut the onions and garlic, made the broth, added the tomato sauce and stirred it up, then let it simmer while the cheese bread was cooking.

We have a hike in the morning, then some cleaning to do and dinner to make before my Mom comes in.


Today’s co-op was threatened by rain and snow, but it stopped just as we headed to the outdoor portion of the class at Lookout mountain (ecosystems.) First the kids sat in the classroom and talked about living and non-living things and what living things need. Then a few brave kids got to come up and put on ecosystem/food chain hats. The sun gives energy to the plants who feed the squirrel who is eaten by the fox who is then eaten by the mountain lion who is then decomposed by fungi (after he dies.)

It was a cute way to show a food chain and see what happens when one part is interrupted. Then we grabbed coats and went outside for a hike. We stopped on the trail and played a game where we wrote down everything that was in the area to eat. Some of the things on the list were: yucca root, pine needle tea, stone soup, insects, fried spiders, pine nuts, pine cone soup and sap. Yeah, some of those are not going to taste great and I’m not sure you’d want to eat a pine cone. Then our guide had the kids become trees, they couldn’t move from their spot.

He threw colored tokens at them that represented sunlight, water and soil.

Now, if you had sunlight that was great, but if you didn’t get a water token, the sun isn’t going to do much good.

If you had soil and water, but no sun, that wasn’t good either. It made the point that trees get what they get (and don’t throw a fit.) The ponderosa pines in the area have tap roots as deep as the tree is tall, this helps them get water and withstand the wind up here. A tree that doesn’t have a long root might not fare as well up here.

Next we climbed up to the stone gazebo and talked about decomposers.

Then the kids were let loose with magnifying glasses to see tiny things.

I took some flower pictures.

Our last station was inside the nature center, we had 5 skulls and had to determine if they were carnivore, omnivore or herbivore and what animal they belonged to.

With the rhyme – Eyes in front, made to hunt. Eyes on side, made to hide, told to us, it was pretty easy to figure out if the skull was a predator or prey. Next we looked at the teeth to determine what it ate. We thought skull 1 was a mountain lion, but it was a bear. Skull 5 we thought was a beaver, but it was a porcupine – we got the others right.

That was a fun co-op and the weather turned out to be just right.

Bluff lake

We found out this morning that Grace’s fish art won 2nd place for CO.

That was a cool thing to start the morning with. We did school, ate lunch and headed to Bluff lake for my geocache co-op. My GPS was worthless, so others tried their GPS app on their smart phone, which worked too well. We found caches, but not the ones the park hid for the bird hike.

So, we ended up just walking around the lake and looking at the birds.

We passed by the prairie dog town and the dogs were on high alert because a hawk was cruising for a snack.

We saw some pretty flowers, a kestrel, ducks, blackbirds, robins, egrets and hawks.

We found quite a few nests, this one was empty.

We’ll have to find a GPS app and go back and look for the caches we didn’t find, still it was a nice hike. It started off cloudy, then sunny, then a thunderstorm rolled in just as we were leaving.

I’m making sweet potato chorizo lasagna for dinner. Here is the recipe, it looks good.

Sweet Potato-Chorizo Lasagna

4 medium sweet potatoes (about 2 lbs.)
1 1/4 cups milk
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 7 1/2 ounce links uncooked chorizo sausage
12 dried lasagna noodles*
Olive oil
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
6 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded (1 1/2 cups)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. For sweet potato sauce, place sweet potatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake 1 hour or until tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from oven; cool. Peel; discard skin. Transfer to a food processor. Add milk, lime juice, and cumin. Cover; process until smooth. Set aside.

In a large skillet, break up chorizo with a wooden spoon and cook over medium heat about 5 minutes or until cooked through (160 degrees F). Remove from heat. Drain fat; set chorizo aside.

Meanwhile, cook noodles according to package directions or until tender, but still firm (al dente). Drain; rinse with cold water. Drain well.

Drizzle bottom of a 3-qt. rectangular baking dish with olive oil. Arrange 3 noodles in a single layer atop oil. Spread with one-fourth of the sweet potato mixture. Spoon with one-fourth of the chorizo over sweet potato mixture. Sprinkle with one-fourth of the green onion and cilantro. Top with one-fourth of the cheese. Repeat layers. Cover with a piece of parchment brushed with olive oil, coated side down; seal tightly with foil.

Bake 40 minutes. Uncover; bake 5 minutes more or until cheese is golden brown and mixture is bubbly. Let stand 20 minutes before serving.


So, what does a Brony and Pegasister and Everypony do at a My Little Pony co-op? They make glass magnets with cutie marks and pretty ponies.

They sing-a-long to MLP songs.

They wear MLP shirts.

They drink tea and eat pony food (apples, carrots and tomatoes) and have cupcakes and pony cookies.

They bring MLP trinkets and stuffies to look at.

And, of course, they play pin the tail on the pony (ouch!)

We rounded out the party with trivia, a funny MLP mad-lib and face painting.

That was fun!

And the poem prompt for the day was:

25. Think of a popular ad slogan and work that into a poem. Try to use the phrase in a totally different way (for instance, making “good to the last drop” be about tears).

We used this site to look at some slogans. (Really? Google’s slogan is Don’t be evil?)

Get N or get out!
Come play:
ghost in the graveyard,
wax museum,
four square,
or go home
and play a video game.
(Nintendo, Get N or get out.)

I am what I am
I do what I want to do
I can run
and hide
and jump
and play
and you can’t say
because I am what I am.
(Reebok, I am what I am.)

Beauty is not defined
by our looks,
and can result in a beast inside
if we don’t dig
deep enough to find
the truth.
(Mac Pro, Beauty outside. Beast inside.)

When there is no tomorrow,
what do you do today?
Do you spend one more minute
reading e-mails
or spend one more minute
talking to a friend?
When there is no tomorrow
do you stop and smell the flowers,
and try to stop the hours?
Do you read that book,
and savor what you’ve cooked?
Do you give one last hug,
and feel your heart tug?
What do you do,
when there is no tomorrow?
(FedEx, When there is no tomorrow.)

Ft. Collins museum of discovery

Since we were up so early we stopped by the library to waste some time before heading to the museum, but they were closed. So, we went to a park. Hannah played on the swings while the rest of us walked down to see the Cache la Poudre river.

When we walked back over to the playground, Hannah was screaming bloody murder. She had tried to fit into the baby swing, you know, the one with the leg holes…and she was stuck. We pushed and pulled, but she was stuck good. The plastic was cutting off the circulation to her legs they were crammed in there so tight. I was thinking that we would have to call the fire department to come cut her out, so I tried to think of something that would make her legs slippery enough to get out of the swing. Thank goodness I had hand sanitizer in the car. We slathered it all over her legs and I pushed on her feet while Bethany pulled from the top and Hannah popped right out. It’s one of those stories that I will tell her children, the time your Mama got stuck in a baby swing. She was fine but had bruises on the top of her legs from where we had pushed and pulled against the plastic…needless to say she is never going to try that again (well, never say never, but I’m pretty sure she won’t…)

The reason we were camping was so we could wake up and already be in Ft. Collins for a co-op at the science museum.

I have wanted to go to this museum for awhile, but we just haven’t.

Now that we’ve been, we’re going back for sure. It was awesome. We watched a digital dome movie about prehistoric sea monsters and then got to tour the museum.

Want to lift a piano? They have a lever set up and you can try pulling the rope to lift the piano by placing the rope at different points on the lever.

There were musical instruments to play, a sound booth where you could jam on a piano, guitar or drums alone or together.

There were crazy experiments like biting on a straw that was attached to a metal pole to hear music through your teeth.

The tornado chamber was a hit with Hannah.

Grace liked the mesmerizing metal disks that flowed like water in the air movement experiment.

I liked the digital music maker.

We played around and explored things like: building a trumpet and trying to play it, learning about beavers and dams, learning about kinetic energy, doing a ping-pong maze, watching water pulse with tones and more.

We stopped to eat lunch and then went back into the museum to play with friends.

That was a great co-op, we will be coming back to play there and swim in the river this summer.


The prompt yesterday was hard: 16. Write a poem that includes the words other, mother, smother and/or cover at least 10 times (any of the words or all). Feel free to add other words and phrases that sound similar (such as brother and of her).

The mother
called every other
The brother came
running in
chasing every other

My mother
called my little brother
as he tried to hover.

My other
has a child
that is my
My father
him with gifts.

Why do you never say
Oh, Mother!
It’s only
Oh, Brother!
Does it bother
anyone else?
I wonder
if every other
thinks we should
an Oh!
every now and then too.

Today’s was better: 17. Write a poem as an elderly version of yourself looking back on these years. I love that Hannah’s ‘older self’ is 10!

This is from your ten year old self:
Spend more time dancing,
because it makes you happy.
Spend more time drumming,
because it makes you feel good.
And also,
math gets harder.

Be sure to say thanks.
Thanks for taking me to a whale movie,
thanks for taking me to
Making Waves to meet
Mr. Cousteau,
and driving me to the river.
Also, that trip I took,
that mentor I met,
it was the best day ever,
so, say thanks.

You thought
that you couldn’t
do this,
but I have already done it.
Do not underestimate

I often wondered then
was it worth it?
Looking back now,
I say yes.
It was good to say
today we are going on a road trip,
today we are doing school
in a museum,
today we are reading a book under the
canopy of a tree,
today we are making a memory.
It was good to make learning
happen early and spend afternoons
lazing by the river, watching the ducks float by.
It was good to say that school could be
an IMAX movie about whales,
or cleaning up a river,
or dancing with the Moscow ballet,
or flying a plane.
Those moments, they will stick around
So, to myself I say yes,
it was worth it.

Today we did some school and then went to the library for my art co-op. I didn’t take my camera, which is too bad because there were some great pieces being created. We were making mosaics, but in reverse. We started with a shape, crumpled it, smoothed it out, colored it, then ripped (or cut) the shape and glued it onto construction paper. The kids could crumple the paper to make lines that they then traced over and colored, or the could just draw lines and color, or just color without lines. They could cut or rip the paper and assemble it back into the shape, or not. It was just an hour and a half of creative art, make what you want. The Moms got to make some art too, which is always nice.

Bethany is making art too, today she used sparkle (I didn’t realize it was sparkle) Mod podge to glue pages from a dictionary to a frame back. She’s almost done with her zentangle hands that go on top of the paper and there are letters we stamped with the die-cut machine at RAFT that spell out ‘you are more’. The art is for CORE’s WOW show and it’s a collage based on a song and kind of inspired by Barbara Kruger (whom she found out about during her art class.) I think it will look really cool when she’s done, I’ll take a picture of it then.

Ortho, edible plants, retreat, Frozen

We started the day off at an ortho appointment for Bethany, it’s the same outfit, but this location is closer to us. I like this guy better, he thinks that the space left by pulling her last baby tooth (which had no permanent tooth) can be brought together. This is good for many reasons, for one thing it means she won’t have to get an implant and for another…it’s cheaper than getting an implant. Then we headed to Boulder to CU for the medicinal/edible plant walk.

There were about 50 people following her around, so it was hard to step in and get a picture of the plants. The lady leading it was a herb expert an we heard about the normal edible plants (which, she pointed out, edible doesn’t mean they taste great, it just means they won’t kill you if you eat them.) Dandelion, mallow plant (which should be putting out edible seed pods right about now, but I think Maisy eats them before we see them), herbs like mint, thyme, sage, and lavender.

We saw plants in the violet family like these Johnny-jump-ups, violas and violets.

We saw burdock, stinging nettles, rose hips, and Oregon grapes.

We saw huge rose hips, but they were from last season. We saw Creeping Charlie plants and another creeping plant that has white flowers in it…I can’t remember the name, but we have it in our yard (we also have the one with blue flowers, but that is called Veronica and is not edible.) The girls chilled out for a bit during the tour.

In our yard we have: mint, creeping (white flower), mallow, burdock, thyme, sage, rose hips, juniper and dandelion and none of that is anything that I planted. Yes, you can eat juniper berries, our guide went over pine needles and juniper berries on the walk. The trees on the CU campus are starting to bloom, this one has pretty reddish flowers when it blooms (that you can’t eat.)

We got home and had enough time to do some school. Bethany was told by her English teacher that her speech analysis pre-write was good as is and didn’t need any revision, I told her that the last paragraphs could use a little refining, so she did that and turned it in. You can read it here. The poem prompt for the day was to take an old poem of yours and change 50% of the words, here they are.

Hannah chose her alliteration poem, she likes the other one better.

both yellow bees have been nice
they carry couches to the court
basically they can hear
after dawn they go have honey

Grace chose her odd numbered poem, she likes the night one better.

is very bright
whenever the sun is shining
the glow melts the snow.

Bethany also did her odd poem, she likes them both.

Ciao, vale, auf wiedersehen, au revoir, la revedere
this means goodbye
now you know five.

I chose my alliteration poem, I like this one too.

rain, softly, silently,
falls quite steadily,
drenching the world in dew.

Bethany got dropped off at church for a girls retreat. They are going to Winter Park, so she brought warm clothes and cash for trinkets. Grace and Hannah had a co-op at Eileen’s house. They ate pasta, made a stuffed snowgirl and watched Frozen. James and I went to the mall and ate at La Sandia, then we went to Cabela’s to see what was there. Cool stuff, expensive stuff, stuff that I would like to have on a camping trip, but dang, expensive. The girls had fun, of course, thanks for a great night Eileen!

In other news, my curtains and toaster got together and made a crock-pot.

Not really, my Mom ordered it. The toaster was a Christmas gift, the crock-pot is a very early Anniversary present, I like it. I’m not saying that food is going to taste better coming out of such a colorful crock-pot, but it’s nice to see on the counter.

DOD tomorrow!

St. John’s

Look, the shoe fairy came to visit…and 4 of those pairs belong to Hannah.

The concert at St. John’s Tuesday was amazing. We heard from the Opera Colorado folks that we saw last week, but they sounded much better in the cathedral. They sang songs from opera to musical theater and even jazz.

After the concert, we toured around the church. Do you know what the difference between a cathedral and a church is? Cathedral comes from Latin cathedra, “seat”, a cathedral is the seat of the bishop, where he is set for the diocese. We also saw the chapel and found out that the word chapel comes from capella (L) which means “cloak” and refers to the cloak of St. Martin that he cut in half so he could give a beggar (Christ in disguise) something to wear. The French version changed the word into our current chapel and chaplain.

St. John’s cathedral was built in 1903 and is not the first or second, but the third cathedral that was built. The first was aptly named ‘St. John’s church in the wilderness’ and the rector noted of his first 12 burials – 2 executed for murder, 5 shot, 1 shot himself, 1 died of delirium and 3 of natural causes. The second was built in 1885 and was destroyed by fire 23 years later, but they managed to save the rood screen, a Tiffany stained glass window and the wooden figures that stand in the chancel.

The cathedral will be built in the shape of a cross, eventually. Right now it has the long part of the cross and a temporary chancel where the short arm will be. Two stones link the church to it’s Anglican past, one from Canterbury and one from Westminster.

There are 45 stained glass windows in the sanctuary and the Tiffany glass (1889) is over the main entrance.

The crosses are covered right now due to Lent and the Patriarchal (double) cross is at the front of the church.

Wandering around we saw Dagwell hall which has cute figures on the stained glass.

The smaller chapel in the back was supposed to be the children’s chapel, now they have small services and other events there. The ceiling is hand painted and the lovely wood carving was created by a Denver artist and early director of the DAM back in the 20′s.

It’s a very pretty church with a lot of history in it, I’m glad we could tour around.

My side of the mountain

Bethany did something in each of her classes this morning, since we’ll be in WP tomorrow, I know that we’re not going to have time to do much school in the morning. There are already research paper topics in history and english coming up next week, so jumping ahead is a good thing.

Grace, Hannah and I went to a co-op slightly based on the book My Side of the Mountain. First we tried to start a fire with a flint and steel, easier said than done especially when the wind was blowing so hard.

After everyone got a turn the boys decided to try again and have the kids stand around to block the wind, they got close, but still no fire.

Next we went on a walk to identify some edible plants, tough luck if you are looking to eat them right now, most don’t have the berries/flowers or green leaves yet. We talked about the yucca, you can eat the flowers and the seeds (about 1-3 weeks after they flower), you can boil and eat the roots, and you can rub the leaves and roots in water to get a kind of soap.

Currant bushes produce currant berries, you can eat those or make them into jam.

We found some herbs like sage, thyme and mint. Pigweed (or miner’s candle) can be eaten when green, you can eat the leaves like spinach and also cook the green heads. I suppose you could eat the berries when they are brown if you cooked them first.

Roses have rosehips, you can eat them raw, cooked or make tea or wine with them. We might try tea this summer.

We saw cactus too, if you pick off the spines you can eat it, make a drink from it or fry it up and eat it. Other things that you can eat in the wild (but we didn’t see on our hike) are: cattails (you can eat the brown part early in the season like a corn cob, you can eat the roots and grind the roots into a flour), wild strawberries and raspberries (we find these up in the mountains in late summer), dandelions (you can eat the flowers, stems and roots), pinon pine (the tree has nuts that you can eat.)

Rule of thumb, if you aren’t sure about a plant – don’t eat it. Know what plants are in the places where you live or are hiking around. Don’t eat plants (for the most part) that exhibit these traits: Milky or discolored sap, Spines, fine hairs, or thorns, Beans, bulbs, or seeds inside pods, Bitter or soapy taste, Dill, carrot, parsnip, or parsley-like foliage, “Almond” scent in the woody parts and leaves, Grain heads with pink, purplish, or black spurs, Three-leaved growth pattern. It might be best to have a book with you to identify edible plants or even make your own cards by taping the berries/leaves/shoots/flowers to an index card and writing the name of the plant and what parts are edible.